The horror genre is considered an art form by some because it’s often brilliantly crafted to scare the pants off of you.
The likes of George A. Romero, Wes Craven, and Tobe Hooper know exactly how to keep you twisting in your seat while also making it impossible to look away. Adam Wolfe is the name of a new game from Mad Head Games that follows the titular Adam Wolfe who specialises in investigation of the supernatural. Adam Wolfe’s first episode, The Ancient Flame, does a fantastic job of fitting into the horror genre with just the right amount of subtle suspense, creepy story, and clever puzzles to round out the whole experience.
In The Ancient Flame players are given details as to what motivates Adam Wolfe in his particularly strange profession. When Adam’s sister goes missing, there’s more to his investigations than just trying to solve them. He’s constantly haunted by the memory of his missing sister and as you move through the story it becomes clear that her disappearance has something to do with Adam’s supernatural cases. The Ancient Flame specifically starts with Adam investigating a series of arson attacks around San Francisco. After discovering that the attacks are being committed by a fire elemental, Adam plunges into a dangerous investigation as to where it came from and how to stop it.
Mad Hat Games have done an interesting thing with Adam Wolfe, combining an almost comic book-like art style with a classic first person shooter point of view at times. During cutscenes, the player has a chance to admire the detailed art style of the extremely realistic-looking characters and monsters. During the hidden object/puzzle portions of the game, players are given a view of an entire room as well as occasionally just Adam’s hands. A lot of the game is clicking through dialogue which can feel more like a visual novel than a hidden object game, but the puzzles are impressive enough that they are surely what sticks out the most when you look back on the experience.
The main game mechanic of Adam Wolfe is clicking around each of the very detailed settings in order to find hints that will help towards your investigation. Something as simple as clicking on a museum display could allow Adam further insight into his investigation, so it’s important to pay attention to all of the details when you’re looking around. When you come across a puzzle it will likely be straightforward – such as a simple hidden object puzzle, where you have to find something specific in and among a cluttered mess – or it could be as complicated as putting together a full set of events in order to find out what happened during a past moment. For example, when someone breaks into Adam’s home it’s your job to figure out where they went and what they touched so that Adam can hopefully find out who they were and what they wanted.
The only issue that I had in Adam Wolfe was occasionally being stuck with no idea where I should go next. This could be my fault for perhaps not paying more attention, but could also be a lack of direction given to the player. I often found myself jumping all around the map, unable to figure out exactly where I should be going. You are given a hint button to help you along the way, but really, what’s the point in a puzzle game where you’re using hints regularly? Otherwise, everything else played smoothly and kept me glued to my computer screen from start to finish. The length of the episode was only about an hour and a half, a little less to account for the time I was stuck, so it’s a pretty perfect length to sit down and finish in one sitting.
The Ancient Flame is a really fantastic introduction to this hidden object horror game. The first episode gives the player an opportunity to see what to expect from the rest of the season. You can expect well made puzzles, gorgeous graphics, as well as a really interesting story line that will have you on the edge of your seat. Though I mentioned before that it does well in including horror elements in the game, they are very subtle, so if you’re expecting horrifying gore and jump scares that’s not what the game is about – it is very much an atmospheric kind of horror with just the right amount of gore and eerie atmosphere. Check out Adam Wolfe if you’re looking for a fun puzzle experience with a fantastic story underneath.